To help those children whose needs mean that they don’t fit inside the box, we need an outside-of-the-box solution. That is Strength and Learning Through Horses, the first clinician-led Equine Therapy service in London and the first ever NHS-commissioned Equine Therapy service. However, with CoVID-19 putting pressure on our already-overstrained NHS, it’s make or break for the small charities which they support.
‘I visited the stables last year and I was so impressed with the work being done by Strength and Learning Through Horses. I think they have the potential to help youngsters who feel marginalised by society and who struggle in school. It’s a really valuable asset to the local community and it would be such a loss if it had to shut because of the current situation. If you can help out, please do as I know there are youngsters whose lives will be transformed by them in the future.’ - Clare Balding
‘The extraordinary, almost magical way contact with horses and riding can help and change young people with difficulties is well known to me from personal experience and I very happily support the work of Strength and Learning Through Horses. More than ever in these difficult times we should give all the support we can for it to continue.’
Andy Mackay Roxy Music
‘Outdoor educational learning and therapeutic experiences are essential for our young people, especially within this modern world of technology, it is vital we do what we can as people to help support these charities stay alive during this testing time!’ - Hussain Manawer
This tiny charity, based in a couple of fields in Edgware, is revolutionising ways in which teachers of previously-expelled students are reaching out to some of the country’s most vulnerable young people.
Or, they were.
Coronavirus is changing our entire world. Companies are struggling to stay afloat left, right and centre, with small businesses suffering the most. Small charities are suffering even more, and with the inability to do the vast majority of their vital face-to-face work, this charity needs more help than ever. Without the regular work that this stable does with some of the most vulnerable young people in London, the young peoples’ mental health is likely to slip. They can’t sit in on a zoom call like the rest of us - they don’t have the ability, can’t find a safe space, place to focus; perhaps they don’t even have a phone or a computer. The stables will have their work cut out for them as soon as guidelines relax and they can continue their work, but meanwhile, they need to keep the stables open, look after and feed the horses, and pay the few employees they still have working for them. It’s a tall order but the end results of these equine therapy sessions have proven that they are more than worth the logistical stress.
Strength and Learning Through Horses engages excluded young men and women with high levels of mistrust in professionals via developing positive relationships with horses, therapists and specialist staff. This allows young people to develop their reflective capacities around relationships and address these difficulties; improving relations with self, family, staff and peers and leading to improved engagement with professionals, services and opportunities.
Equine therapy has been shown to be vastly successful through the testimonies of some of Strength and Learning through Horses’ clients. “I learnt that I can be strong, even if I feel small,” says one. “I was nervous when I came. Now I’m happy.” says another. These simplistic statements ring true with authenticity and gratitude, further emphasising just how important this work is, and the tangible difference which can be made to so many lives. These testimonials are backed up by a rapidly developing scientific evidence base which suggests equine therapy can lead to improved psychological and behavioural outcomes for vulnerable young people and adults whom traditional services have struggled to reach (White, 2020, Trzmiel, 2019, Jormfeldt, 2018, Carlsson 2016).
We need to act now, or we will lose one of the most innovative and effective ways of helping to assist the mental health of the marginalised and excluded people in our country who need it the most. The current health crisis is exacerbating the mental health challenges of the young people in our community, and so this work just became even more vital.
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